A Note on Trump’s Proposed Ban of Transgender People in the Military

Leaving aside everything else that is wrong and immoral about this proposed ban, at the moment there are something like 11,000 trans people currently serving openly in the US services and reserves. They are there legally, and it is currently their right to serve openly. Trump’s ban, at first glance, appears to take away their right to serve their country, and takes away their jobs, their incomes, their benefits for themselves and their families — for no other reason than something which yesterday was not illegal nor an impediment to serving their country with passion and distinction.

Make no mistake: Trump is affirmatively and explicitly taking away a right from American citizens, a right they already had and enjoyed. This is a big right: The right to serve in one’s military openly, without fear of punishment for who you are.

If Trump will take away one right from Americans, he’s not going to have a problem taking away other rights as well. Why would he? Trump is the living embodiment of “If you give a mouse a cookie” — if he gets away with one thing, he’ll go ahead and try to get away with something else. He’s already trying, of course.

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I support the right of transgender people to serve openly in the military, a thing they already have done, any more than it will come as a surprise that I support the rights of transgender people generally. But as important as it is for me to explicitly say I support transgender rights, I think it’s also worth asking people who oppose these rights, or other rights enjoyed by people not exactly like them, whether they are comfortable taking away fundamental rights these American citizens already have — and if so, what leads them to believe that their own rights, rights they already enjoy, are not also placed in jeopardy by that precedent.

If the answer boils down to “well, that will never happen to me,” as it inevitably will, it’s worth examining why they think they will forever be immune. The answer will be instructive for everyone.

And also, they’re wrong. If you can take away an existing right of an American simply because of who they are, then you can take away a right of any American simply because of who they are — or what they are, or where their ancestors came from, or what they believe, and so on.

I said on Twitter this morning, “Today, as has almost every day in this administration, offers each us of a chance to understand the dimensions our own moral character.” And so it does. And so it will, every day, I expect, until it is done.

139 thoughts on “A Note on Trump’s Proposed Ban of Transgender People in the Military

  1. Before anyone puts it here, yes, this is relevant:

    Also, remember that the military spends 5 times as much for Viagra as it does on costs relating to trans medical care, so if you come along to make that argument you should be aware a) I’m going to be skeptical of that argument, b) that even if it were a reasonably argument in itself, it is neither here nor there with regard to the ability of trans folk to serve.

    The reason Trump is doing this is because he’s a bigot and because he’s pandering to bigots.

  2. YES to all of this. Taking away rights that people already have will ALWAYS END BADLY for the people who took them–but after it’s too late to fix the problem.

  3. Is there any way to frame this as taking away second amendment rights from transgender people? Trying to take away guns from 11,000 people. That would really be an interesting spin on the issue.

  4. Far be it for me to say anything even remotely protective of Trump… but I don’t know if he is necessarily a bigot so much as he is pandering to the basest of his base, and also that he simply doesn’t care.. he knows that it will not be looked upon negatively by his supporters, only by those already against him, so fuqem. If he seemed strategically minded, I’d also think he was using it as a diversion from his other travails, or to solid up his ‘conservative’ credits before doing something like booting Sessions.

  5. Neil A Ottenstein:

    There’s no credible argument there, no, unless there is a specific move by Congress to ban transgender people from firearm ownership.

  6. @Assad Khaishgi

    I don’t care why someone does bigoted things. I don’t care if they do them out of some misguided morality or if they do them out of base self interest. All I care is that they do them and that doing so hurts others.

  7. If the answer boils down to “well, that will never happen to me,” as it inevitably will, it’s worth examining why they think they will forever be immune. The answer will be instructive for everyone.

    Do you discuss this sort of thing with your nice-people, Trump-voting neighbors? Do you press them seriously on their own perceived immunity? And if so, do you encounter anything beyond invincible ignorance?

  8. Hooray, sir! And the part about “giving the devil the benefit of law” is, on a much smaller scale of importance, is why I was among those who insisted that the World Science Fiction Society must follow its own rules and its own rule-changing process, cumbersome, time-consuming, and irritating as it can be, to deal with the influx of Griefers trying to destroy the Hugo Awards for their own reasons. There were many — even people who I like and respect and who were part of our community — who demanded Instant Action Immediately and who demanded that the Administrators should simply extra-legally disqualify “the Bad Man” and his cronies.

    When you start demanding that laws and rules be set aside for special cases for yours own narror reasons, you are setting yourself up for someone else to set them aside against you.The Siberian Candidate, in my opinion, thinks that The President Makes the Law, and regrettably, there is a significant minority of my fellow Americans who think that’s how it actually works. I hope deeply that the institutions of our country can survive the mangling they’re being given by someone who really in his heart appears to think that whatever he says is the whole of the law.

  9. The people who support this won’t think of it as taking rights away, because they don’t think those rights actually existed in the first place. So this is a correction, not a problem. Also, they just don’t give a shit about other people, so why would they care?

  10. This is for everyone who still maintains that what now gets called “conservatism” is not a synonym for bigotry.

  11. As noted elsewhere on the internet (can’t remember the source I saw it at… it’s been a twitter-heavy day), not only does this take away a currently existing right, but also earned benefits. Under DADT, soldiers were given general discharges for being “mentally unfit”, which means they got no VA health benefits or GI bill benefits, and bad references for future job applications. Assuming this stands, it’s reasonable to assume currently-serving trans people will be discharged under the same heading.

  12. This is a hard one.

    If this ban is based purely off bigotry and discrimination against a group of Americans because trump doesn’t like and or respect them then yes this is absolutely wrong. Mind you Trump and most of his administration has not bestowed upon me any confidence that this isn’t the case, then is absolutely unequivocally wrong.

    However, and this is a major but, that I’m sure won’t win any friends, if people at the higher echelons of command have reviewed these policies and determined they are a legitimate detriment to the force, then we have to look at it without the lens of emotion.

    As a devil’s advocate for logical reasons why this might be the case. Most forms of major surgery of any kind are grounds for one being barred for enlistment. Transitioning mid enlistment would put you in a situation where you could be non-deployable for several years due to surgeries and recovery times. If I were to blow out my knee, and it was determined that I would not be fit for deployment for that same length of time, it’s very likely that I would be medically chaptered out of the Army. The military can be a harsh place, but it’s not about the individual, it’s not about rights, it’s about what is best for the force, and if this decision was made with those criteria in mind it is something that has to be looked at. Not through the gut reaction lens of emotion, but through a clinical eye.

  13. I have to believe that we’re better than this. And I do believe it. As an American, and a veteran, I’m utterly pissed off. We have to be better than this.

  14. @failedwell – I had bottom surgery three years ago. I was fully recovered and back at work with no restrictions in three months. I am neither unique nor unusual.

    Also, a significant fraction of trans people transition without surgery.

    Mr. Trump is trying to ban all of us.

  15. @PeterM:

    What they think is irrelevant in this case. The law as currently formulated allows for transgender people to serve openly, thus making it a legal right. Sure, you could argue whether it’s a moral right, and whether that means it should be a legal right, but that’s largely semantic games.

    Currently, the law says that X class of people are allowed to do Y thing. If you change that law to say that X class of people, specifically, cannot do Y thing, you’re taking away existing rights, regardless of whether you think they should exist or not.

  16. But people do not transition without hormone therapy correct, and need said therapy continuously in order to properly maintain their gender identity. I’m not sure if it was ever resolved, but their was questions about people on hormone therapy’s ability to deploy.

    If it was found that they can’t, then again, any other medical condition that would render you non-deployable for an extended period of time would lead to a medical discharge. If it was found that being on hormone therapy does not affect ones ability to deploy I would love to be educated on that fact. I can only go by what I find.

  17. Welcome to day 188. Be ready for day 189. Save your energy for the next election (day 1373). And don’t forget to register to vote.

  18. Top and bottom surgery for trans people, and tearing an important ligament in your knee, are very, very different beasts. The timeline for the most major gender confirming surgery I know of—phalloplasty with testicular implants, which occurs in several stages several weeks’ recovery times between each stage—takes up to 6 months to complete from start to finish. But healing is nothing like healing from a knee injury. You can resume strenuous activity in 6-8 weeks after the last surgery.

    And, other than some eye or ear surgeries, most surgeries are not permanent disqualifications for military enlistment. They’re temporary disqualifications within 30-120 after the surgery, depending on what type it was.

  19. Failedwell:

    You’re doing the thing of arguing from a position that pretends that trans people did not already have the right to serve, and looking for theoretical reasons why they shouldn’t serve. Nothing you’ve posited mitigates taking away that already existing right. As you’ve already brought up the phrase “Devil’s Advocate” ask yourself whether you are just arguing to argue. If that’s all you’re doing, you might want to wind things up.

  20. @failedwell

    The proposed ban cites monetary reasons — an inability to monetarily support a trans person’s medical needs. But being transgender does not imply a medical transition, whether through HRT, surgery, or other means. It does for many, but does not for many others. Forbidding all trans people from serving because some of them have trans-specific medical needs is short-sighted, ignorant, and bigoted.

    Furthermore, undergoing SRS does not imply lifelong mobility concerns that a knee surgery might. Yes, they’d be out of commission for the duration of recovery, but they’d be fully capable afterward. The proposed ban includes trans folk who do not want or have already recovered from SRS and therefore would have no need for related medical leave.

    As John pointed out, the military spends 5 times as much on Viagra than it does on trans medical care. Even an appendectomy costs more (on average) than SRS, and HRT costs far less than that. Citing monetary costs for medically supporting transgender soldiers is a bullshit cover for anti-trans bigotry. Trans people have always served in the military and they will continue doing so. Bans like this just make it so we can’t be honest about who we are, even while risking our lives for our country.

  21. @failedwell—hormones have zero affect on ability to deploy. It’s just a pill or an injection that you as prescribed by a doctor, no different from any other ordinary medication. I’m following a trans guy on tumblr who is on testosterone and it didn’t stop him from being deployed. There’s nothing about hormones that I can even think of that would make this difficult—except maybe periodic blood tests to confirm hormone levels are on target, but plenty of other people get their blood drawn occasionally, too.

  22. Failedwell @ 2:20:

    The military brass did carefully consider what impact transgender personnel would have, which included commissioning a RAND report. Their conclusion was that transgender soldiers should be allowed to openly serve. That the new policy was tweeted out, the official DoD spokesman referred all questions to the White House, and as of writing the DoD transgender policy site has not been updated to reflect the new policy all tell me the DoD was not actually consulted here.

  23. It’s clear that Trump did not base this decision on any study or recommendation by the DOD. Probably he saw something on Fox and Friends or Alex Jones that caused one of his remaining synapses to fire.

  24. I’m arguing simply that reason for the reversal matters. In the article you yourself posted it mentions the review that was underway by Mattis and the Joint Chiefs to see how President Obama’s policy to allow Trans gendered people to serve was affecting the force.

    Serving in the military isn’t an inalienable right, it’s not habeus corpus, freedom of speech or the right to bare arms. It’s not open to every part of the population as the others are.

    I’m just saying if that review found that trans people cannot serve fully or effectively, that is different than that is different than the reversal being about discrimination.

  25. @failedwell – I don’t know where that piece of misinformation came from but I keep seeing it. Yes, hormones are nice. For various reasons, I haven’t had a dose in some two years. I assure you, I’m still breathing and still at work.

  26. Based on this quote from an administration official, this decision was was done so they’d have a wedge issue for the next election:

    “This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to take coplete ownership of this issue. How will the blue collar voters in these states respond when senators up for re-election in 2018 like Debbie Stabenow are forced to make their opposition to this a key plnk of their campaigns?”

  27. While the “the military spends five times that on Viagra” is true it’s not the complete truth, which is “the military spends ten times that on erectile dysfunction drugs, which includes Viagra”.

  28. @Failedwell How is taking HRT any difference than a female soldier being on a birth control pill? We have more than sufficient logistics in the armed services to make sure they get their prescriptions.

  29. @heckblazer So in other words, a purely political tactical decision made without any principle whatsoever.

  30. This tweet really worked. I haven’t read a thing about Russia, Sessions, or the Boy Scouts all day.

  31. @Jeff Matchan I don’t know what the difference is, neither fall into my realm of experience. And to be clear I’m not for the reversal, i’m simply saying that the reason for the reversal matters. If it’s another example of President Trump being a garbage human, then fuck him he’s a garbage human. If it’s based off of a legitimate study conducted by the Sec Def and the Joint Chiefs, then it should be looked at and not dismissed out of hand.

  32. Failedwell:

    “Serving in the military isn’t an inalienable right”

    The right was already granted, however, so this assertion is immaterial to the discussion. And this goes to my point that whether you are cognizant of doing so or not, you’re arguing from a position askew from the reality.

    You appear to be fishing for a reason to excuse taking away a right (whether you personally believe it to be correct or not).

  33. Who wants to bet that the ‘Generals and military experts’ are the usual ‘They’ of ‘They say’ that Trump often bases his beliefs on?

  34. @failedwell: seems to me it wasn’t all that long ago that being black or being female was considered a condition under which being allowed to serve was detrimental to the force. I suspect that there will always be such reasons to restrict military service, just as there have for many years been such reasons to restrict things like, oh, say, the right to vote or to own property or to get married to the person you choose (consenting adults, of course). Finding reasons to pander to your prejudices is easy as apple pie. Interestingly, those who wish to take away rights and privileges tend to get real loud about supposed restrictions to their preferred ones, no matter how mirage-y such threats seem to be. One might say (and, in fact, I do almost daily) that It’s Always Projection.

  35. I’d call Trump a shitsack of a human being, but that’s an insult to shitsacks.

    Time to #calexit and dump the moocher red states off my tax dime. They’re responsible for this dumpster fire of an administration. The astonishing thing is that Trump has actually made me feel a tiny twinge of sympathy for the vile racist Sessions.

  36. @failedwell

    Anytime someone uses the phrase “play devil’s advocate” in my head I hear “I like being an asshole” or “I really think this, I just don’t want to admit it”. What comes out of their mouths usually proves me right.

  37. I suppose it’s just a greyish cherry atop the whole vile sundae of this move that it may score extra brownie points over in Moscow, as one hears Vlad & co. are may nervous by teh gayz.

  38. I don’t have much to say, except as a gay trans man who served in the Army for six years, I appreciate knowing that I’m a fan of the kind of people who are willing to stick up for me. I definitely appreciate it.

    Also, it was fun to see your panels in Denver and your reading/signing in Boulder earlier this year.

  39. How about for every serviceperson kicked out because of this we draft a voter in favor of this measure? Gotta support the troops; can’t have them undermanned.

  40. Women are next. Trump has already said that he doesn’t think women should be allowed to deploy in combat arenas. This WAS probably done to create a wedge issue and make people forget that he has been erratic and ineffectual as a leader. It’s also intended to draw attention away from Scaramucci firing people from an already woefully understaffed West Wing. That said, I think for Trump, transgender has a squick factor. He approaches all of these things like a prepubescent boy. Heck, he approaches most of his life as a prepubescent boy. I guess he’s given up on the LGBTQ community. We were’t voting for him anyway.

  41. Republicans have been taking away womens’ rights to abortions ever since those rights were granted by Roe v. Wade. Just because a right has been granted is not going to stop them from coming after it. They really are that lacking in humanity & empathy.

  42. “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
    MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

    He lived it, he warned us. Now it’s our chance to do better.

  43. Don’t be distracted by Trumper Tantrums.

    While the media are having a shitstorm over these most recent outrageous Trumpism, other more important news items are being push lower on the news feed:

    1) Senate GOP Healthcare bill “debates”
    2) Trump feud with AG Sessions
    3) Kushner and investigations about Russia

    I have a hard time thinking that Trump as the strategic insight to wag the dog, it’s really immaterial. He is doing it, and he does it quite well.

  44. I’m seven years older than Trump, and when I was a young adolescent boy circa 1953 the Christine Jorgensen story did indeed squick me out. But I got over that sixty years ago. By that time I had also learned how to decline unwanted sexual approaches politely and without either fear or disgust.

    It’s possible to grow into adulthood. Trump seems never to have entertained the possibility.

  45. @andrew Not sure those are necessarily more important to a current serving trans person.

  46. Trump continues to prove day after day that the adage “You can’t cure stupid” holds true :(

  47. Most of the republicans and trumps base are the lowest of the low. Biased ,bigoted, rascist, against strong women, etc etc etc

  48. “if people at the higher echelons of command have reviewed these policies and determined they are a legitimate detriment to the force, then we have to look at it without the lens of emotion.”

    If there was actual proof that this was actually the case, then you wouldnt have had to start this part with the word “if”.

  49. Is anyone really surprised at another hateful act of bigotry from this fetid sack of wasted organs? Anyone? Bueller?

    It doesn’t matter that it’s almost certainly a Big Distraction From Wrongdoings. It doesn’t matter that it’s a smokescreen move to keep our attention off collusion to let tens of millions of Americans just die. How that isn’t conspiracy to commit mass-murder, beeteedubs, is beyond me. It doesn’t matter that the sickening piece of trash dragging the Presidency through it’s own filth is waving away from his treason and his attempt to create a new Hitler Youth, the Russian collusion and every other sack of crap he’s dragged into the daily business of running the country.

    The thing that matters is that this is discrimination, plain and simple, and for no better reason than getting his rabidly hateful fans to scream a little louder, to make it harder to dig this diseased parasite out of the heart and mind and soul of the nation.

    Trump is costing innocent people their lives, and will continue to do so. Innocent people will be persecuted for no reason better than expediency. The absence of any moral fibre, of any decency, of any honour in this circle of utter scum has been blatantly obvious since the sick bastard started his campaign.

    And people bought it. And keep buying it. And defending it. And justifying it.

    Some stinks will never wash off. This is one of them.

  50. Most of the people who’ve been set sqwauking about the “right” to serve in the military would start running for Canada if the draft was reinstated.

  51. Joe S. Walker @ 4:47, as a U.S. Army veteran with a right shoulder patch and a modest fruit salad, I can tell you that military service and honorable discharge affords not inconsequential benefits in terms of education, employment, and housing prospects. Denying trans people the right to serve denies them the opportunity to access these benefits. Current trans service members will, if these tweets are turned into policy, see their lives disrupted and careers abruptly ended. The willingness or unwillingness of those defending the rights of trans people is unrelated to their reaction to a hypothetical draft. (Also, involuntary military service is a bodily autonomy issue. You’ll likely find those of us in favor of trans folks having the same rights to serve are equally in favor of those who do not wish to serve not being forced to do so.)

  52. Joe: “would start running for Canada if the draft was reinstated.”

    For example, Trump? The man did have 5 draft deferrals, including a medical deferral. Even though Trump was athletically active in college, he found a way to fail his physical once he graduated college.

    Canada indeed.

  53. Bone spurs in his heels, that he apparently acquired about a week before his draft thing, and managed to get rid of about a week later.
    The Coward in Chief.

  54. Google this: ‘pentagon surprised about trump transgender ban’. For the record, it appears that Trump mainly pulled this out of the Black Hole that is his ass without actually running it by the military.

    @failedwell Please, sir or madam, take your Devil’s Advocating self to the devil.

  55. I don’t have much to say, except as a gay trans man who served in the Army for six years, I appreciate knowing that I’m a fan of the kind of people who are willing to stick up for me. I definitely appreciate it.

    [Deleted because this was a little much. Keep it on “not easily potentially confused for homphobia” side, please, TO — JS]

    Note: Trump is doing this as a sop (SOP?) to Tea-Koch loonies because a Tweet gets loads of Media coverage and doesn’t actually have to be actioned.

    He doesn’t think it’ll pass, it’s never going to be a Law, it’s just a Flare for the BASE[tm] and loads of Media outrage / howls of joy that cover up the cracks in the plaster.

    Oh, sure: it’ll be done, just not right now. It’s just signing off on policy when The White Revolution cometh.

    p.s.

    [Deleted because see above — JS]

  56. I was talking to a friend at the bar while this was on TV, and she whispered that she sort of agreed with it. Then I mentioned that the health care costs associated with transpeople in the military were minimal—a hell of a lot less than the latest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. She said, “But there aren’t any transgender people in the military, are there?” And I said, “Yeah, there are a lot.” And she said, “Well, then, fuck this.”

  57. Explanations for people who aren’t Not-Probably-Tim: Steers n Queers.

    Oh, NSFW:

    And yes: it’s called reclaiming the mimetic space from those using Apocalypse Now and other War movies as propaganda. (Check out Reddit – full on Valkyrie usage).

    Men / Women / Whatever with Big Guns are still killers, NRA and Others. That’s the bit they respect.

    You can then use 300 as a homoerotic come-back to their memes (So, Senator X, I suspect my six-pack is a little tighter than yours. Ever served sweaty thigh to sweaty thigh in a humvee dripping with ball sweat, or did those magical ankle horns prevent it?)

    p.s.

    N-P-T can tell me if my humor is off. We can do the non-profane serious version, but this is the kind of thing that wins Hearts & Minds in the ‘Lower Ranks’ (groooan).

  58. So we have a proposal from our President to take away rights from a subset of the citizenry.
    Since Mr. Scalzi writes really good, fun fiction for us, I suspect some readers of this blog may be dystopian fiction fans like I am. Would anyone care to recommend works exploring the theme of citizens/government taking away rights from people?

  59. (In Before “Not all Men have Penises / other versions / combinations therein”)

    Yes, that’s part of the joke / attack vector. You’re not X, you’re Bonded-by-Sweat-Tears-Blood-and-Bad-Bureaucracy in the (US) Military.

    Just ask: “Knowing the VA (and GOP defunding thereof), you know any military person willing to take their cut-price version? Hell, it’s probably “take 3 pills and come back in six months if the problem hasn’t cured itself. Broken leg? Take three pills a day. Gushing bullet wound: here’s your three pills. Gender dysmorphia? Here’s the pills, take four, just in case”

    P-N-T will get that one, or should…

  60. In fact, reel it back a smidge, please.

    That wasn’t homophobia, it was gay erotica. Stubble Rubbing down the back? Rarrrrw.

    Meeep.

    /Chuck Tingle ruggedly walks off.

  61. Failedwell: “if people at the higher echelons of command have reviewed these policies and determined they are a legitimate detriment to the force, then we have to look at it without the lens of emotion.”

    Who are the higher echelons of command? Name one. Trump hasn’t.

  62. @Tentacled One

    In no particular order, because I haven’t been on the internet for a few hours and therefore am reading all of this at one time:

    As a former Texan, I definitely knew about “steers n queers” already – lord knows I’ve had that thrown at me, even by my own family.

    I certainly hope this ban isn’t a policy that will actually stick, but I guess we’ll see. If this somehow turns into a thing where your service record can be changed after the fact – if my DD214 gets messed about due to this – than I’m rather boned, since I’m currently using VA to have access to hormones and regular blood tests. (Possibly surprising to some, but I’ve never had poor service at a VA hospital, and I’ve never had a ridiculous wait for an appointment, either. Medical care was much more shoddy while on active duty.) And, y’know, I’m in the middle of a degree using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Feel free to call me selfish, I don’t mind.

    Your humor, the parts that haven’t been redacted, don’t particularly bother me on a personal level, but I’d say it’s not quite the right tone for this conversation.

    So, um, I’m mostly trying to get in contact with all the people I knew from my old active duty trans support group so they can get their affairs in order and start looking out for themselves. For the types of people who have had a strained or nonexistent relationship with their parents, military service was kinda our easiest shot at having health insurance, learning job skills, and having access to a college education. Units were enacting surprisingly progressive policies in regards to trans soldiers before this came down the line.

    Sorry for the wall of text, y’all.

  63. Your humor, the parts that haven’t been redacted, don’t particularly bother me on a personal level, but I’d say it’s not quite the right tone for this conversation.

    Yeah, with the edit it doesn’t really make sense. Let’s just say: it was a deliberate reversal of the “Steers n Queers” trope, in a very gay way.

    Look – pro-tip for Host and Others: it wasn’t really quite “blue”, but was specifically military, and was specifically designed so that non-gay men couldn’t really parse the vibes. Thus Host (naturally) not really seeing the different versions.

    It was a personal love letter and support joke for P-O-T that not only a) didn’t feature anything trans related (i.e. He’s a Man, and here’s a really blue Male Military joke sequence) and b) warped a whole lot of gay humor for his benefit to cheer him up. (Ask host to see it – it’s really not that dodgy, but… it’s fairly particular. And I know you’d enjoy it ;)).

    For the types of people who have had a strained or nonexistent relationship with their parents, military service was kinda our easiest shot at having health insurance, learning job skills, and having access to a college education. Units were enacting surprisingly progressive policies in regards to trans soldiers before this came down the line.

    Yeah, 100% get this.

    They’re targeting easy shit minorities (15,000 in the US military alone) just to make political hay. It’s going to get worse, because this shit works. The crappy erotica / jokes were to show that you’re not some alien oddities (although, human, so…!?!?!) but can easily just slotted into the entire ecosystem with no fucking big deal, apart from the general suck, which everyone shares.

    Twas a love letter. Just trying to make you smile in difficult times (crap at guns, good at love and tickles). This We’ll Defend: That was the 300 tie-in – godspeed black emperor.

    Was a respect / support love letter.

    But we’re a bit weird, so it never gets seen as that.

  64. @jeff

    The Handmaid’s Tale–thought it may be a touch difficult to read, since it feels like we’re living in the Prologue.

  65. @ Tentacled One

    Thanks for the context. I have a feeling for what you’re going for – I’ve got a filthy sense of humor and I’ve made those type of jokes about my orientation and such before. But I’m a new poster here, I don’t want to step on the toes of anyone not interested in that sort of content or joke delivery. Probably best for us to not talk like we’re in a barracks, though, you know?

    I do appreciate the support, though.

    (Sidenote, on the “not all men have x” type comments: I’m only one guy so take it with a grain of salt, but I’d rather not hear those comments. When you get a regular stream of confused or belligerent people commenting on your Schrodinger’s genitals, and you’re dealing with gender dysphoria to boot, it gets exhausting when your genitals are brought up by well-meaning allies, too. Again, ymmv.)

  66. Like the “review and rescind” naming of National Monuments, this is another attempt to reverse ANYTHING that Obama did that might have an enduring legacy. Part of Trump’s mandate – from his base is to render Obama’s presidency a non-event.

  67. Sidenote, on the “not all men have x” type comments

    Comments made to protect Host, not you. Host’s regulars are (for many good reasons) sensitive to such things, and hey, it’s actually no big deal just including everyone in the pr0n.

    You’re human, ffs. Our tentacles fit anywhere and everywhere.

    Oh, and get a passport. Now. < That's not a joke, last chances to lock down gender identities you prefer and/or want to go to Canada with.

  68. This is not in response to any of the comments, it is a response to the post. I want John to know that I use his writing to communicate with my white male republican boss because he frequently cannot hear what I say because I’m female, and when I’m emphatic, I’m just being hysterical (not as in humorous). I thank you John from the bottom of my heart for articulating for me, although it’s sad that I need you.

  69. (@Host: Look: any joke to an Army brat that dissess the Marines is funny, ok? Especially if [WURBLE WURBLE BLUE RUDENESS] but that was amusing. Esp. if you know the Marines propensity to steal shit off every other arm…)

    Anyhow – Illegitimi non carborundum – to you ALL.

    Y’all on the same side. Trust me, I know the Others.

  70. Relevant lore question: how do transgender people get recruited in Old Man’s War?

    They take a blood sample, presumably they ask gender as well, and presumably they’d want to put their new soldiers in bodies that match their gender identity. How does that work? Do they get another sample from a related donor? Do they explicitly ask? Wouldn’t that give the game away?

  71. ebbr @ 5:58:

    The Pentagon looks to have been very uninformed:

    “At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.”

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/coralewis/trump-transgender-military-service?utm_term=.yyA9WD3PY#.ce0Yw38vp

    This also seems as good a time as any to point to the reported existence of The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army, an LGBT unit formed to fight ISIL in Syria (slogan: “These Faggots Kill Fascists”):

    http://www.newsweek.com/first-lgbt-unit-created-fight-isis-syria-its-name-queer-insurrection-641148

  72. This transgender ban is a bid to divert attention to that while he quietly replaces Sessions during the August recess (avoiding a Senate confirmation) and gets Mueller fired.

  73. Except there hasn’t BEEN an AUgust recess in at least 8 years, and republicans don’t seem thrilled to change that anytime soon. Oddly, they seem to feel that confirmation actually means confirmation. I know, who would have expected it.

  74. Heckblazer said: “The Pentagon looks to have been very uninformed . . .”

    Uninformed? To say that the Pentagon was taken by surprise would not be an understatement. Secretary of Defense Mattis was on vacation at the time of the announcement, and the Pentagon press office is directing all inquiries about President Trump’s impromptu announcement to the White House.

    According to Politico, the roots of President and CEO Trump’s decision is as follows:

    “House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico.

    But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them.

    They turned to Trump, who didn’t hesitate. In the flash of a tweet, he announced that transgender troops would be banned altogether.

    Trump’s sudden decision was, in part, a last-ditch attempt to save a House proposal full of his campaign promises that was on the verge of defeat, numerous congressional and White House sources said.”

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/26/trump-transgender-military-ban-behind-the-scenes-240990

  75. If we have to be bigots to defend the nation, I doubt we then have a nation worth defending.

  76. Something folks in the USA should be concerned about: you’re heading into Niemoller territory right there….

    First, they came for the immigrants. Who spoke out?
    Next, they came for the unwell. Who spoke out?
    Now they’re trying for the trans* community. Take note of who’s speaking out.
    Who are you expecting to speak out when they eventually come for you?

    This president doesn’t need to come up with concentration camps or death squads. Lack of work, lack of a safety net, and stoking the outrage of the channers, alt-right and far right while removing resources from the police (and do check where your local police stand on various matters – you may be surprised by it) and judiciary will do the job just fine.

    The important thing to remember: Hitler was, and always remained, a political and economic outsider. He didn’t know what could be done with the existing political mechanisms, so he used the mechanisms he did know about, which were military and militaristic. Trump and his cronies are political and economic insiders, and they’ve been playing this game for decades. They know where all the levers are, they know what they can get away with, and they know to a nicety just how far they can push things with their current allies before people will start pointing out obvious resonances.

  77. I don’t know that serving in the military is a “right” in the the strictest sense; The military can ALSO reject you for weight, age, tattoo-below-the-elbow status, or a host of other medical conditions that would normally be prohibited by the Americans With Disabilities Act. In the case of, say, being a Type 1 Diabetic this makes a lot of sense (insulin supply might not be terribly reliable on the front lines, and the military’s refusal to subject diabetic would-be soldiers to that risk is not a statement on said would-be-soldiers’ value to society), but universally, across ALL trans people… eh, probably not. You might convince me it’s a bad idea to arm and then put front-line-stress on people who rely on a daily injection of hormones to maintain stable brain chemistry, but for people who just want to wear clothing that doesn’t “match” their birth certificate? Not so much.

    I think the real problem here is that it’s a broad ban clearly based on the POTUS’ (and his base’s) squick factor – as opposed to a narrow one based on clearly cited and defensible evidence. If he actually goes through with it at the policy level (not a given – his attention span is short and rewriting policy is a long, drawn-out process), he is screwing over a lot of service members who have faithfully defended the country, just to throw a little red meat at his base. The “money” thing is shenanigans (seriously; just buy ONE less F-35 fighter jet, have 10x what you need for every transgender person serving, or admit you view gender reassignment surgery as cosmetic & decline to pay for it), but it doesn’t have to be an abrogation of a right to be an offensive violation of the pact between the country and its defenders, who SIGN AWAY some of their rights when they enlist.

  78. Robini:

    “I don’t know that serving in the military is a ‘right’ in the the strictest sense”

    This is another attempt to move into a theoretical, hypothetical realm something that existed in concrete fact. Whether you “don’t know” about this right is immaterial; in point of fact, transgender people had the right to serve in the military. In point of fact today Trump is trying to take away that right. It’s easy to pretend people’s lives and rights aren’t being upturned and violated when you abstract them.

    Which is to say: In fact, these Americans had the right to serve.

    Everyone else:

    Comments off for the night. They’ll be back up in the morning. Sleep well!

    Update: Comments back on.

  79. A couple things on terminology:
    “But people do not transition without hormone therapy correct, and need said therapy continuously in order to properly maintain their gender identity.”

    Yes, hormone use is one way of transitioning and I think it’s used continually once begun, though someone who knows more can maybe chime in on that. It’s important to be aware, however, that some trans people choose not to physically transition at all; they still maintain their gender identity as the one they say it is. And if someone who has chosen to transition loses access to their hormone treatments for whatever reason, their identity is still whatever they say it is.

    “but for people who just want to wear clothing that doesn’t ‘match’ their birth certificate”

    Also not the same thing as being trans. There are cisgendered people who like to dress in ways coded to another gender while still maintaining their gender identity assigned at birth. Trans people may or may not choose to dress in a way coded their gender identity; how they dress doesn’t affect how they experience their gender. (This is important to me because I know trans people who have been subjected to gatekeeping about their gender presentation not matching their gender identity well enough for the gatekeepers, which is bullshit).

    I assume the comments were made in good faith, and I’m not trying to jump on anyone, hope it didn’t come across that way.

  80. Robini:“I don’t know that serving in the military is a ‘right’ in the the strictest sense”

    Scalzi: “This is another attempt to move into a theoretical, hypothetical realm something that existed in concrete fact. Whether you “don’t know” about this right is immaterial; in point of fact, transgender people had the right to serve in the military.”

    Ugh. John, I love you, man. I am clear this whole transgender ban thing of Trump’s is nothing but bigotry pandering to his base. I think anyone who can and wnats to serve, which includes transgender people, should be allowed to serve. But you’re attacking the bigotry with a misunderstanding of how military service actually works. Which, I was willing to let slide because, meh. But now that someone is trying to clarify the technical terms to you, you dug in and attacked them, rather than listen.

    Military service is a privilege, not a right. That’s just how it works. It turns out, the vast majority of times that people say “military service is a privilege, not a right”, it is followed by some argument trying to impose some notion of bigotry into who gets the privilege. Women serving in the military, or serving in combat roles, or serving side by side with men, has been argued to be disruptive by some who then say “service is a privilege” and then try to say women can’t serve in that role. Blacks couldn’t serve, and then then were allowed to serve but only in segregated units. It’s bigotry through and through. Absolutely. But it is still not a right.

    Driving is a privilege, not a right. But if someone said that and then went into a long rant about how women should be denied the privilege to drive, everyone would be clear that that person is just a bigot.

    The measure of whether someone is granted a privilege is whether they can do the job. If you can drive, you are granted a drivers license. Taking an entire group of people who are capable of the job, and trying to deny them the privilege because of their membership to a group independent of their ability to do the job, is straight up bigotry, which is what Trump is doing.

    If you listen to people who have a more personal understanding of how military service works and who want transgenders to serve, you will notice they use this “can do the job” sort of phrasing without using the word “right”. A good example of this was by McCain. The man knows a thing or two about military service and he defended transgenders being able to serve by saying this:

    “The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are.””

    He never uses the word “right”, he never talks about a “right to serve”. He does, however, point out that there are currently thousands of transgender people serving honorably in the US military, who are ready, willing, and able to fight for their country, who should be allowed to continue their service.

    By contrast, you used the word “right” 18 times in your original post. And the thing is, Robini is absolutely correct that it’s not a right. That’s not the word to use here.

    “right” or “privilege” doesn’t actually matter here. Service is a matter of whether you can do the job. And transgender people are serving now. They have shown they can do the job. They are serving honorably. They have shown they are willing and able to fight and die for their country. And Trump wants to kick them out because bigotry.

    I think Trump is doing this out of pure bigotry. His ban should be opposed. I think you’re on the correct side of this fight. It’s just that you latched on to a word that doesn’t actually apply.

  81. Greg, if I were to engage with this topic on the basis of rights, it would not be a right to military service, per se. It would be the right to be treated equally, to be accorded the same rights and responsibilities and opportunities as other citizens. If you’re capable of performing military service, in our society, that service is a door to valuable opportunities (skills, personal and professional networks, pensions, educational opportunities, etc). And, because they are government-provided opportunities, the government has an obligation to provide them in a Constitutional manner, on the basis of ability rather than color, creed, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

    That’s why I generally use the argument you point out: we should assess access to military service on the basis of a person’s ability, and the content of their character. And as Americans, when it comes to government jobs, and even to services sold to the general public, we do have a Constitutional right to be treated in that manner.

    Grace

  82. >>“right” or “privilege” doesn’t actually matter here. Service is a matter of whether you can do the job.

    But isn’t there a right for transgender people’s fitness for the job to be judged by the exact same standards as any other applicant? That seems like a pretty important right to me.

  83. Greg @9:39AM, I get what you’re saying about the semantic differences between the words right and privilege. Also, based on your explanations, I believe you’re on the side of the angels here. However, based on lived experience (and supported by your examples), all too often when something is declared a privilege, that status is used to deny people rights. There is nothing inherent in being a transgender person (or a woman, or a person of color) that makes one unfit for military service. The fitness to serve of cis, straight white males is judged on an individual basis, and everyone else has the *right* to be judged on the same criteria.

  84. >>But isn’t there a right for transgender people’s fitness for the job to be judged by the exact same standards as any other applicant? That seems like a pretty important right to me.

    I think that is more the general “right to be treated equally under the law” rather than a specific “right to join the US Armed Forces.” Sort of like how a license to drive is a privilege under the law, not a right, but forbidding an entire class of people the ability to obtain a driving license would be a violation of their right to equal access under the law.

    Honestly, we’re kind of arguing semantics that are important in the abstract, but just a distraction in context. Trans folk should have the right to serve their country if they are physically and mentally capable of meeting the standards required of anyone else who seeks to do so, as approx 10,000 already have and currently do.

    The ultimate source of that right is, IMHO, a distraction from the fact that those 10,000 capable soldiers are in jeopardy of being kicked out, their careers ended, and their access to benefits they have sacrificed their lives for denied.

  85. As I suspected, it turns out the Joint Chiefs of Staff were not consulted. Apparently nothing will be happening until they figure out what the hey is going on:

  86. How unpopular, bigoted, and cruel can one man be and still remain President of a nation? I think we’re seeing the answer in big, bold headlines rignt now.

  87. Also, take into consideration that this is a man who has not had much luck in getting -any- of his agenda passed… I’m pretty sure he’s willing to do or say whatever is convenient for him in order to get the votes he needs to make it look like his term was not completely without progress on the agenda that he set… this isn’t about transgenders in the military — this is about distracting people from the fact that this man is ineffectual and using vulnerable populations as a fulcrum to attempt to elevate his own ‘excellence’ at the price of others’ lives. Looked at from that perspective, I think that it is an imperative that we keep the focus on what a dysfunctional, ineffectual, and destructive individual is sitting in that seat — since we’re all pretty much agreed that this was a shit move, put that spotlight back on the individual who is, at the moment, right in the middle of, if you’ll pardon the gross commentary, right in the middle of taking a crap on all of us, in whole or in small parts that he can conceivably easily sink.

  88. I suspect that Trump and his ilk really don’t see transgender people as real people; and if they aren’t real people, they don’t have any rights. America has a long and bitter history of such attitudes, though colored people were the usual target. Target’s changed, aim’s the same.

    Will

  89. @Greg — Can you cite some case law that backs up your point about right vs. privilege? I.E. have the courts actually weighed in on this?

  90. Gary,

    How many trans people do you know well?

    Roughly how much total time have you spent learning about trans people?

    I ask because I know a lot of trans people, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning about us, and your post shows signs of profound ignorance about us. To point out just one item, you do not appear to understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Also, I think we can file “just my opinion” in the same box as “just to play Devil’s Advocate” and “I was just kidding”.

    Grace

  91. @Gary

    That may be your opinion, but it an extremely bigoted one not born out by the actual lived experiences of trans people. Please refrain from saying such things in public as you probably won’t like what people call you if you do. And please try to do some thoughtful self-reflection on why you might hold such viewpoints.

  92. What the hell, Gary?

    If your opinion isn’t based in fact, it’s worthless. You’re spouting harmful shit and saying, “it’s just your opinion”

    Go read a goddamn book on the subject and get back to us.

  93. In today’s news, the Joint Chiefs have told Trump (in effect) to go pound sand.

    “I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been reviewed by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”

  94. You have a great moral case but a bad logical argument.

    What you are calling a “right” to serve was always limited, it was never a right. It was always predicated on the military’s ability to make any future determinations of eligibility which it wanted to make. It was always a one-sided contract. It always involved arbitrary decisions, without the ability to protest much. It always involved a limitation of personal rights.

    Could the military discharge anyone who they think has (or lacks) a particular psychological status, even if almost all folks with that condition are happy and successful? Yes. The military could, if it so chose, only retain people with high scores on the “dark triad.” The military can do anything it wants even if it is stupid. see, also: many kinds of war.

    Could the military discharge anyone who they think has (or lacks) a particular physical condition, even if almost all folks with that condition are happy and successful? Yes. The military could, if it so chose, only retain people with bulging biceps and a BMI over 40. The military can do anything it wants even if it is stupid. see, also: many kinds of war.

    So, can the military discharge anyone who is trans? Yes, of course, just like the military could exclusively retain those who were trans. The military can do anything it wants even if it is stupid. see, also: many kinds of war.

    When you sign up for the military, you are agreeing in advance to be bound by the decisions of your superiors–whether good or bad. This is a bad decision, but they clearly have the right to make it.

  95. Trump’s first tweet announcing this ban began “After consultation with my Generals…” . ‘His’ Generals. This sounds like some tinpot dictator.

    I wonder if Trump really cares one way or the other about LBGT people serving in the military. Or is he trying to be the ‘big man’ to people, in this case ‘his’ generals, that seem to like him. Given how the ban has caught most of the military off-guard, it doesn’t seem like a lot of thought went into it.

    also @Thomas Seiler let’s not wait until day 1373 to get out and vote. The 2018 mid-term elections are so important. Especially if somehow (God willing or God help us?) Pence becomes president.

  96. Can I just add ditto all this on reproductive rights which the GOP is rolling back in most states at this point and which does not result in boycotts and bans for some reason in the same way that the discrimination against trans people does.

  97. Please refrain from saying such things in public as you probably won’t like what people call you if you do.

    Actually, when people say such things in public, I think it’s fair that they get the response they richly deserve. I don’t think we should deny them the response and the emotional aftermath from that response.

  98. Hey John, I just want to say that I appreciate you using your platform to promote rights for trans folks, and for moderating the comments so I don’t have to see the transphobia. It’s nice to see cis allies talking about this and to know that it’s not just trans folks who are upset. (And thanks to all the commenters [trans and cis] who are also speaking up here and educating other folks. I don’t have the energy to do that today. It’s really nice to see that I don’t have to always be the one speaking up, because other people have my back. I hope I can be there for you on a day when you need it.)

  99. >> Zippy says:
    >> When you sign up for the military, you are agreeing in advance to be bound by the decisions of
    >> your superiors–whether good or bad. This is a bad decision, but they clearly have the
    >> right to make it.

    Not entirely true
    This sounds a LOT like the “I was just doing as ordered to” defence at the Nuremberg trials which failed spectacularly
    That they CAN make the decision is one thing
    That its a legal or moral decision you should or should not follow is every soldiers right & obligation

  100. If that legislation in the House packed full of keeping Trump campaign promises now moves ahead, my prediction is that all that may ultimately happen on this issue will be Trump giving a directive to the Secretary of Defense who will implement it by reclassifying sex change surgeries for military personnel as cosmetic procedures not to be paid for by the Defense department. The hawks get what they want and our able bodied trans-military people keep right on serving us well as they have done so to date. A tweet does not policy make; an executive order now is another matter. I I rather count on our current sensible Secretary of Defense to do the sensible thing should Trump pursue action in regard to the tweet yesterday.

  101. Well, that didn’t come across how I intended it to, although thank you Greg for stepping in and elaborating on the argument I was trying to make. At this point, I think it might be worth separating the term “right” out into “right to be treated with dignity,” vs. “right to serve in the military as a job” Clearly, Trump’s ridiculous proclamation violates the former, and I in no way suggest that it was anything other then an immoral, bigotous, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. But as for the latter… military service isn’t a “right” in and of itself, any more than landing any *other* job is a right. Yes, it is illegal to discriminate, and I’m incredibly skeptical that the military can come up with any job qualifications that exclude trans people in their entirety but *aren’t* discriminatory. But I’d argue the right Trump is stomping on is their right to equal protection under the law; Stating that there’s a “right” to serve in the military implies that a person who is, say, injured in battle (or diagnosed with PTSD) and then honorably discharged is also having their rights violated. Which just doesn’t make sense.

  102. stormweaver884 says:
    JULY 27, 2017 AT 11:08 AM
    Also, take into consideration that this is a man who has not had much luck in getting -any- of his agenda passed… I’m pretty sure he’s willing to do or say whatever is convenient for him in order to get the votes he needs to make it look like his term was not completely without progress on the agenda that he set…

    ============

    While Trump himself has no agenda beyond bathing in the adulation of adoring crowds, the right wing is using him to advance THEIR agenda, and very smartly. Regulations protecting the environment, people, health, safety are being rolled back. Trump HAS appointed many, many judges (You only heard about Gorsuch) that he wouldn’t know if they walked up and kicked him, but are thoroughly vetted by the Federalist Society for appropriate right think. Look up the history of John Bush. “He compared abortion to slavery. He spread Obama conspiracy theories. He ranted about liberal politics on a blog under a pseudonym.

    And now he has a lifetime appointment as a federal judge.

    The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm John Bush, a controversial Kentucky lawyer nominated by President Trump, as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.”

    This is going on in the background, drowned out by the noisy fireworks. The latest abomination is another tweetburst fed to him by sycophants with the own agenda.

  103. We’d better get used to this. It’s going to happen a LOT in the next couple of years.

    Trump tweets something stupid. People react. He makes no effort to do the work that would actually change the law. His Trumpkins think he did because he said so, and that’s all it takes to change the law, in their opinions. The controversy eventually dies down, replaced by another stage of stupid.

    I fully expect that Trump’s fans will go on believing that transgender people got booted out of the military, and no amount of pointing out the facts will change that. I also believe that in the next two years it will be claimed that Trump survived a (nonexistent) assassination attempt, that the Wall has been built and Mexico is paying for it secretly because its government is too scared of Trump to do otherwise, and that Trumpcare was passed and is the new law. These are not discerning voters. We have passed into an alternate reality.

  104. It’s the cold equations all over again. *Fe* The U.S. Navy clearly can’t afford multiple instances of the finest aircraft carrier technology in the world if it has to pay for personal medical costs. Thus, the solution is obvious: eliminate these costs! Each Ford-class carrier* costs a cool $13 billion apiece, before the next 3 years of cost overruns, and shows little evidence it will actually work any time in the next 3 years (https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/americas-new-13-billion-aircraft-carrier-is-still-far-1797119016). Eliminating the (about) $3 million spent on transgender medical expenses will allow the Navy to buy 0.00023 of these bad boys based on current prices. Sacrifices clearly must be made! */Fe*

    * Our motto: “Have you driven a Ford lately?”

    (The “Fe” tag is used to denote irony and, by extension, sarcasm. Just because it isn’t always clear to some folk.)

  105. The only yardstick for whether or not people serve should be whether or not they can do the job.Anything else is pure bigotry, which of course Trump specialises in. I wonder what the service people in the forces think of their commander in chief when he comes out with crap like this.

  106. Back when bigots were fighting for slavery, they shouted a lot about “states’ rights”. To this day, when you hear someone talk about states rights, they are likely looking for a legal way to make their bigotry immune to interference from the federal government.

    But even so, there really is such a thing as states rights, and it is actually an important part of our nation’s form of government.

    It’s kind of like that with “serving is a privilege, not a right”. For example, you could be denied enlistment if you have tattoos on your fingers. (Exact rules depend on the branch of military and have been relaxing over time, but it is a thing). Once you are in the military, many civilian rights no longer apply to you. You are not supposed to wear your uniform to certain kinds of political events, which restricts your freedom of speech in some ways. You are subject to military trials, not civilian trials, for offenses committed in service.

    At the same time, the civilian courts have weighed in on military matters on occaission. A gay man kicked out under DADT went to a civilian court and they ruled the military did not follow its own rules for him. He was 3 years short of retirement. The civilian court forced the military to let him retire with full benefits.

    So, while there are rights at play, it has always been a fundamental component of military service that service is a privilege, not a right. The US military was desegregated by *executive order* from truman in 1948. Not a court. Not a law. By order of the commandrr in chief.

    Clearly, trumps trans ban is nothing but bigotry. But in the process of attacking that bigotry, it behooves folks to avoid stepping on linguistic landmines. If during the civil war, you argued against the South by saying states dont have any rights, you would be woefully incorrect. Same goes for if you fight bigotry of who can serve in the military by saying “service is a right”. That just doesnt capture the reality of military service.

    God is the world depressing…..

  107. Greg notes “You are not supposed to wear your uniform to certain kinds of political events, which restricts your freedom of speech in some ways.”

    Agree with your overall statements, but small nit to pick about this one: To the best of my knowledge, the rules do not prohibit you in any way from attending these events or speaking your mind. They only prohibit you from appearing in uniform and thereby implying that you speak on behalf of and with the approval of the armed forces (thus, of the government). That seems like a reasonable principle, and in no way an unreasonable constraint on your freedom of speech.

    fwiw, when my wife’s church sponsored a family of Guatemalan refugees many years ago, one of the biggest challenges they had was convincing the family that they could trust uniformed policemen, even though they were clearly representatives of the government. Their experience sent entirely the opposite message. Uniforms are powerful symbols, and not just in theory.

  108. Being an informed citizen is good. Not just about rights but basic facts.

    Today in Canada on CBC radio I heard a comedian saying that he enjoys the first few seconds of contact with a Canadian, but then they figure out he is American, and they start talking to him like he is a four-year old child. (Billy Bob Taylor)

    The laughter was because U.S. citizens have a reputation (rightly or wrongly) for being uninformed about any other time and space.

    Trump would have less influence if Americans had already known that next door, in Canada, the armed forces have had LGBT members since 1992 (without any scarey limp wrists etc.) According to a Thursday Canadian (Metro) newspaper, “Canada is one of 18 countries that currently allow transgender military personnel.”

  109. Regarding https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/07/26/a-note-on-trumps-proposed-ban-of-transgender-in-the-military/#comment-838041

    In Mr Heyer’s own words, he was given
    “. . . a treatment for a disorder [gender identity disorder] I didn’t have. I wasn’t a man trapped in a woman’s body. I was an alcoholic with dissociative disorder.” (Trading My Sorrows, p118.)

    In many ways, he’s inspirational, having parlayed his continuing severe mental illnesses into a very well paying gig telling conservative groups what they want to hear. He’s the Go To guy for their views, and has written for numerous publications. Dealt a really crappy hand by Life, he’s made the most of it. It’s most unfortunate that he does so at the expense of others, but I for one am unable to condemn him overmuch. If he wasn’t enabled and abetted by those without his disabilities, he wouldn’t be doing any damage.

    One thing that is rather disheartening. From the NPR article:

    “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.

    In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,”

    In the meantime. After the direction has been received, that’s probably going to have to change.

    In other news…

    The Texas Senate is passing laws preventing Trans children from using school restrooms, and Trans people everywhere from using public restrooms. So if you want to talk about withdrawing existing rights, you might start there.

    And the DOJ has just issued a new unsolicited amicus curiae brief stating that, while employing Trans people isn’t exactly illegal under Federal law, it’s now perfectly legal to fire them for being Trans.

    The legal battle that is being prepared for now regards the interpretation of “in any way whatsoever”. This could be, and it is feared will be, interpreted as preventing Trans people from registering under the Selective Service Act. Under Reagan era laws, those who do not register can be stripped of their citizenship, and are forbidden from Federal employment.

    That’s what happened to one group in Germany on 31/05/1935. First forbidden from military service, then a few months later, purged from government service and stripped of citizenship using laws similar to existing US ones.

    “Could never happen”, right? Just like a presidential diktat like this one, or the DOJ reversing 50 years of court rulings without warning.

  110. If a mentally capable adult is willing to stand up and take oath, and can physically and intellectually meet the standards nevessary for active service, who in hell is that morbidly obese, mentally delusional, morally bankrupt, draft dodging pissant shitbird to say a word about it? Mr. Trump is not fit to shine the shoes of anyone who has or is serving in the United States military.

  111. A couple of people have mentioned the squick factor. I think us tolerance types underestimate the huge influence it has among the people in the right wing bubble. They confuse it with morality. Then we come along telling them it’s just squickiness and they shouldn’t be and that’s bigotry.

    It isn’t, actually. Bigotry is treating people badly. If you keep your feelings to yourself, it really doesn’t matter what they are.

    I think it would be a better strategy in these bullshit culture wars to say, “Whatever squicks you out is your business. LIve your life as you want. But depriving others of their right to live their lives as they want is Wrong.

    Some of them might actually see that, and we’d reduce the numbers of bigots. Telling people to retrain their squick sense is not going to happen because somebody from the opposition orders them to.

  112. Oh, and I wanted to give a loud second to emma’s comment:

    “Can I just add ditto all this on reproductive rights which the GOP is rolling back in most states at this point and which does not result in boycotts and bans for some reason in the same way that the discrimination against trans people does.”

    Funny, by which I mean not funny at all, how that works.

  113. From the Economist of 29 July 2017:

    “A study for the Pentagon issued last year by the RAND Corporation, a research group, estimated that there are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service men and women on active duty, of whom at most 270 might seek gender transition hormone treatments or surgeries in a year, adding up to $8.4 million to annual military health costs of around $6 billion. For perspective, in 2015 the Pentagon spent $437 million on military music.”

    See also Bridge over the river Wye, “The Role of the Piano in Jungle Warfare – at close quarters, it can be pretty deadly”.

    Will

  114. @Zippy:

    The military can do anything it wants even if it is stupid.

    Not so. First of all, the military is not some sort of hive mind and does not “want” to do things; there is a chain of command with the President at the top.

    The President can order the military to do anything he likes, as long as it is legal. Trump can’t billet a platoon of US Marines in your house, because it violates the Third Amendment to the Constitution.

    As far as I can tell nobody, including Scalzi, is arguing it is illegal to kick transgender people out of the military. So all your talk of “the military can do anything it wants” is not only mistaken, but irrelevant.

    By way of analogy: As things stand, you have the right to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. The government might decide to close the street to pedestrians. There might be good reasons for this, and it could be done in a totally legal way. The fact would remain, the government had decided to withdraw your right to walk down that particular street. The right is clearly not inalienable, but it is a right nonetheless.

    Arguing there is no such thing as the right to walk down a street, because only inalienable rights count, seems like the most ridiculous kind of hair-splitting.

  115. “Also, remember that the military spends 5 times as much for Viagra as it does on costs relating to trans medical care,”

    Minor point, but I am not a huge fan of using this as an example of “clearly useless stuff the military wastes money on” with a sidenote of “giggle giggle boners”. ED is a very common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. Yes, ED is not fatal. Yes, it does not directly affect combat capability in the way that a broken ankle would. Doesn’t mean it isn’t psychologically damaging to soldiers who have already had a bad tour or several, and who probably don’t need the additional burden of a marriage or relationship under strain.

    So next time you want to pick an example of wasted spending… maybe go for military bands or precision drill display teams or the Blue Angels instead.

  116. I’m thinking the weekly flights on AF1 or Marine1 from DC to whatever poor man’s Hearst Castle the shitbird is trying to compensate with is more wasteful than bands, drill teams, or demonstration flights, which all can be made a case for in terms of recruiting.

    Catering to the shitbird’s golfing pastime is a waste, considering the WH is a very comfortable mansion with 24/7 security, MWR, medical, and galley service, which is a lot more than Snuffy gets…

  117. Minor point, but I am not a huge fan of using this as an example of “clearly useless stuff the military wastes money on” with a sidenote of “giggle giggle boners”.

    I think that they are excellently parallel cases. Both are legitimate conditions often requiring medical assistance, and both of which large numbers of people feel free to sneer at and giggle about. Certainly trans people get reduced to “giggle giggle penises” a lot. Ask any trans person how often they’ve heard, “So, have you had The Surgery?”

    It’s absolutely appropriate for people with penises to seek help if those penises don’t function well. The same goes for people whose genitals are a barrier to happiness in other ways (which does NOT describe all trans people; merely a subset of us). And yet, drugs for erectile dysfunction are funded and gender confirmation surgery is not, because the latter is deemed “cosmetic”.

    If people regard drug treatment for erectile dysfunction as “clearly useless stuff the military wastes money on”, then it sounds like they need education… just like people who think that trans people are giggleworthy. But that’s certainly not how *I* intend the comparison when I make it.

    I disagree that spending on completely unrelated things, like the Blue Angels, makes for a better comparison, not least because lots of people would happily trade trans service people forever for a one-time viewing of the Blue Angels, because thinking about trans people squicks them out, while watching skilled aerobatics is awesome. But, more fundamentally, apples and oranges. Parallels should be parallel.

    But I agree that the parallel is imperfect. All parallels are, of course, but perhaps we could improve it. Your post prompted me to do a bit of googling. Apparently for veterans, penile implants are covered under TriCare. I couldn’t find numbers, and I couldn’t find coverage details for people who are still in the military. If someone can find out how much the military spends on penile implants for treatment of erectile dysfunction which doesn’t respond to drugs, then we’d have an even more parallel case: surgeries intended to improve quality of life.

    Of course, then we’d have to compare penile implant with trans genital surgery, not against hormone therapy for trans people (which is actually very low-cost, I know people who get theirs for $10/month). But, a lot of the math I’ve seen kicked about in the last two days simply multiplied the expected number of genital surgeries by the average cost and labelled the result “trans medical care”… as though there were no other costs involved, because everyone knows (and this is sarcasm), it’s all about the genitals and nothing else matters.

    Grace

  118. Grace: if it was really meant in the sense of “here is a very closely analogous thing that the military also spends money on” then, as you note, it works very well.
    That doesn’t seem to be the way in which that analogy is normally used in this debate. As, for example, Stephen Colbert the other night. And I quote “The Army spends eighty-five million on Viagra? Is that why they don’t need to issue them with bayonets any more? Just sharpen that thing up?”
    I don’t think he was meaning that ED medication is a legitimate thing for the military to be supplying to treat a bona fide serious medical issue. I think he was meaning “frivolous unnecessary stuff” and, also, “giggle giggle boners”.

  119. @quixote

    IMO, being squicked is normal. Obsessing over your squick is abnormal (and unhealthy: I might personally find the idea of someone’s sex life or genitals unappealing, but I also don’t spend time obsessing over them). Publicly talking about how squicked out you are by someone’s existence is rude. Attempting to materially damage their lives because of it is immoral.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but I think it’s human and natural to respond to public statements of disgust over transgender people’s bodies by telling the complainers to grow up and get over it.

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